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Conclusion

Our tests of the EAH3870 TOP and EAH3850 TOP graphics cards from ASUS have proved that factory overclocking of ATI Radeon HD 3800 produces but a very small effect and brings almost no benefits for real gaming applications. We don’t mean there is no performance growth at all: it varies from 3 to 5%, sometimes to 10-15%, but averaging 6-8% it almost does not affect your gameplay experience. Usually, if the ASUS cards are able to deliver comfortable performance, the same can also be achieved with the reference Radeon HD 3870 and 3850.

On the other hand, the ASUS EAH3870 TOP and EAH3850 TOP are indeed the fastest off-the-shelf Radeon HD 3800 featuring all the good traits of the series: good performance, high efficiency, and quiet operation. The junior model is obviously preferable to the Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT 256MB while the senior one, being somewhat slower than the Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT 512MB in games, is more available and can be a good choice for a gamer, too. Its retail price is higher than the recommended $199-219 because we’re talking about pre-overclocked versions. The price is also high due to the rich accessories including a full version of Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts.

If you are not taken aback at the price – high-performance products from ASUS have never been cheap – the EAH3870 TOP and EAH3850 TOP may be interesting to you. But if you don’t need lots of accessories and free games, you may want to look for less expensive versions of ATI Radeon HD 3800 offered in plenty by other vendors.

Asus EAH3870 TOP Summary

Highs:

  • Pretty high performance in contemporary games;
  • On average 4%-8% faster than ATI Radeon HD 3870;
  • DirectX 10.1 support;
  • Excellent anisotropic filtering quality;
  • Good start for the future: DirectX 10.1 and Shader Model 4.1 support;
  • Fully-fledged hardware support for HD video decoding;
  • Integrated sound core with HDMI support;
  • PCI Express 2.0;
  • No compatibility issues;
  • Efficient cooling system;
  • Low noise;
  • Low power consumption;
  • Rich accessories bundle.

Lows:

  • Insufficient driver optimization;
  • Texturing and raster processors could be too few;
  • Almost no overclocking potential;
  • High price.

Asus EAH3850 TOP Summary

Highs:

  • Pretty high performance in contemporary games;
  • On average 6%-10% faster than ATI Radeon HD 3850;
  • DirectX 10.1 support;
  • Excellent anisotropic filtering quality;
  • Good start for the future: DirectX 10.1 and Shader Model 4.1 support;
  • Fully-fledged hardware support for HD video decoding;
  • Integrated sound core with HDMI support;
  • PCI Express 2.0;
  • No compatibility issues;
  • Good overclocking potential;
  • Compact cooling system;
  • Low noise;
  • Low power consumption;
  • Rich accessories bundle.

Lows:

  • Insufficient driver optimization;
  • Texturing and raster processors could be too few;
  • High price.
 
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